We caught the 15.00 Havatas bus (cost 14TL) to Sabiha Gokcen International Airport on the Asian side of Istanbul, and were soon in departures awaiting our Pegasus flight to Kayseri airport in the Cappadocia area of Central Turkey. Our flight was delayed by an hour but by 20.30 we were on our way! We had a good deal for the flight, and it only cost around 50 Euros for the return trip.
The flight was smooth and an hour later we are in arrivals at Kayseri airport. We had arranged with our hotel a transfer (10 Euros per person each way) in a minibus to Goreme, the location of our cave! It took about an hour to drive to Goreme and we were first to be dropped off in the darkness outside our hotel.
Our flight was going ahead! We were picked up and taken to the Turkiye Balloons HQ for a buffet breakfast, and to wait for the pilots to decide were we would take off from.
We were taken by another minibus to an area about 20KM out of Goreme, just as it began to get light. Hot air balloons were littered all around us, waiting to be inflated.
It probably goes down as my top travel experience, and is a must for anyone travelling to this beautiful area. We arranged it via Osman at our Cave Hotel, and he can get his guests a special rate of 130 Euros for the Goreme flight. You are advised to book well in advance as the flights are quickly sold out.
We were dropped back to our cave, in time for breakfast on the stunning roof terrace. It was still only 09.00, so we had time to chat with Osman and his father Hassan , about what we could do over the next 3 days. They are a great team, and excellent hosts. Hassan makes a delicious Omelet to go with the Turkish Buffet breakfast.
|Vineyard cave hotel|
After breakfast we decided to hire a scooter for the day (cost 45TL) at Silkroad Scooters, a short walk from our cave. We set off on a DIY tour of the local area around Goreme. This is known as the red tour.
Our first stop was at the highest point in Cappadocia at beautiful village called Uchisar. It has an incredible castle/church formed out of the rock at its peak. It also has a great view of Goreme below. The weather was perfect, clear blue skies, and bright autumn sunshine, although it was cold zooming around on the scooter.
|Turkish delights - Uchisar|
|Panoramic view of Goreme|
Next stop was to an area near Zelve with more weird and wonderful rock formations and caves carved into the stone.
There were a few cafes and restaurants on the roadside, and it was getting on for lunchtime. We ordered a couple of delicious savoury pancakes that were freshly made, and a plate of Turkish pasta. It all tasted lovely and went well with a glass of Efes beer.
We made a few more stops en route at the different valleys and bought a few souvenirs and some roadside market tents. Complementary Turkish tea is served to all the best customers!
Our last stop was at a beautiful little town called Ortahisar, not far from Goreme. We arrived on the scooter, just as the late afternoon call to prayer wailed out from the mosque. It sounded mysterious and added to the ambiance of the place.
We didn't have much time here, and I would recommend at least an hour to explore the town and buildings, but we managed to climb to the top of the castle that had been carved out of the natural rock. The view at the top was incredible over the town below. It was like how you imagine these towns to look many centuries ago.
|Castle - Ortahisar|
We had a show booked via Osman at 18.00 in the next town in an underground cave, to watch the Whirling Dervishes. Osman dropped us off and the show lasted about an hour (cost 15 Euros). The show was very atmospheric and there's no doubting that the guys dancing have talent, but after about 30 minutes the show kind of dragged on a bit. Other than Whirling there wasn't much else to see, but the live musicians/singers and dancers were very good. In my opinion this would be better accompanied with a Turkish dinner and drink.
After the show we were dropped off back to Goreme, and we quickly found a fantastic restaurant to have traditional Turkish meal. We ordered herbal tea, and a Cinnamon flavoured hot milk drink to start, and then we shared a pottery beef Kebap and a Sheesh Chicken Kebap, served with salad and rice. It was fantastic food, and a great way to finish off a brilliant day. We bought a bottle of wine from a local shop, and went back to our cave tired and very happy!
We got up at a more respectable time of 08.00 next day, and had another great breakfast on the roof terrace. Another fantastic sunny day in Cappadocia. We have booked an organised tour known as the Green tour. This is in an area south of Neveshir about 1.5 hours drive away.
We were picked up by the mini bus, and started off our tour. First stop was at the panoramic view point of Goreme that we saw yesterday, and then we went onto Selime cathedral. This is an ancient monastery that has been carved out of the natural rock. Inside are living areas, kitchens and store rooms. Another huge room has a big Cathedral caved into it, with huge stone pillars supporting the structure.
Selime had been home to many different civilisations over the centuries including Persians, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans.The monastery dates back to the 8th and 9th centuries and is on many levels. Quite an amazing bit of engineering back in the day.
We then stopped off for a lunch at a riverside restaurant. I had a Turkish Chicken casserole and Pinky had fillet of trout. Both tasted good, and the setting was nice.
After lunch we drove on another 10 minutes until we came to the Ihlara valley. We descended down some steps to the valley floor. The valley is a 16km long gorge cut into volcanic rock. We were to walk 3km of it, alongside the river. At the start was a cave church with Christian wall paintings on its ancient walls, the ones higher up were mostly intact, depicting scenes from the Bible.
We stopped off for a freshly squeezed juice at a riverside cafe along the way.
At the end of the walk our minibus was there waiting for us, to take us onto our next stop. The Underground city of Derinkuyu.
This is a stunning ancient multi-level underground city, dating from the Median empire. It descends to a depth of 60m and is capable of housing 20,000 people and their livestock and stores. It is the largest excavated underground city in Turkey, and is an amazing rabbit warren like complex. The ceilings in some points are very low, as are the narrow steps that go between the different floors. Ok if you are 4ft tall, but no good for a 6 footer!
Our next stop was back to pigeon valley near Goreme. On the way, Ali the tour guide chose a few of the men to make an idiot of themselves at the front of the bus to do a bit of improvised dancing and karoke! I was one of them.
Next to Pigeon Valley view point was a shop that sold delicious Turkish delights and different flavoured teas and coffees.
Our final stop was at a factory/shop that gave us a demonstration on the production of jewellery from Onyx stone, and then the opportunity to buy said jewellery.
It had been another great tour at 60TL each including lunch and entrance to the different sites. The tour guide Ali, and his driver had been very good. Entertaining, informative and good value.
We were dropped off in Goreme just in time to dash up to sunset point over looking Goreme. It has great 360 degree views up there of the surrounding area, and a Mosque wailed out its final call of the day for prayer.
We passed a nice looking restaurant on the way down and had a lovely meal in the outside terrace. It was getting cold but we were wrapped up warm , and the food was nice and hot. Our table for 2 quickly became a table for 3 as one of the many cats in Cappadocia kept jumping up to join us!
It had been another fantastic day.
We checked out of our cave on our last day and had breakfast on the roof. We left our bags at the hotel as we have a full last day in Cappadocia. Our flight back to Istanbul doesn't depart until 20.40, so we intend to make the most of our time.
We decided to go for a DIY trek out of Goreme through the Gulludere valley. The landscape is really unusual throughout Cappadocia, and each valley has its own variety of rock formations. It was a pleasant walk in the warm sun for a couple of hours and it was nice to finish it off with a cold Efes at a bar at the end.
Fully cleansed we spent the next couple of hours at Fat boys bar in Goreme to have a Mixed Grill and Beef Pottery Kebab, all delicious with a few pints of Efes. We also had a few puffs on the Hookha pipe and felt completely relaxed.
We finished off our time having coffees and cakes and wandering the streets taking in all the sights of this great place.
Its been a fantastic 3 days in Cappadocia, we had perfect hosts in Osman and Hassan in our fantastic cave hotel. The tours have been great and the place is just so different to anywhere else on earth. We had a great time on Planet Cappadocia!